My cozy Dublin list reflects nearly 20 years of favourite special places and flavors.
Dublin is a cool city. I am not a cool person. And herein lies the root of my problem with it comes to recommending things to see and do in the Irish capital. I can't tell you a thing about hip bars, trendy music venues, or any of the amazing shops led by a new generation of makers and creators. I'm not much better when it comes to chic restaurants, festivals, or exhibits. Alas, people ask me for recommendations for their Dublin city breaks all the time. This autumn alone, two sets of dear friends are going there and I couldn't do much more but issue an impassioned plea for them to visit my favourite bakery. Not exactly cutting edge stuff.
But all of a sudden, I thought that, maybe, it might just be enough. After all, lots of people are eager to share why they think Dublin is cool. But who's talking about about what makes Dublin cozy? Me, that's who! Who says that little bakeries aren't the best part of a city, anyway?
At last, I'm ready to own my Dublin recommendations. Here are the cozy places, flavors, and spots that I visit again and again in Dublin. Better luck next time, hot clubs.
Travel writer Emma Higgins spent a year traveling solo around Ireland and the UK... and didn't shy away from taking some walks on the wild side.
Travel writer Emma Higgins went on a journey through the UK and Ireland for the whole of 2015. Emma travelled around her native land from the Hebrides in Scotland to the far corners of Cornwall, the west coast of Ireland and eastern England. Her book, A Year in the UK & Ireland, which is out now, is a collection of twenty long-form stories about her voyage, with beautiful accompanying photography aimed to inspire you to see the British Isles from a new perspective.
We sat down with Emma to talk about her incredible adventure!
Sir Christopher Wren has left a lasting legacy throughout London.
How is it possible that most visitors to London never actually see London? No, it's not a trick question! The metropolitan area we refer to as London is actually two distinct municipalities. The City of Westminster is what most people know as London. If you've seen Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, and the British Museum, then you've done a pretty good job of exploring Westminster!
But the municipality of the City of London, the 'real' London as some might say, is a traveler's dream. The roughly one square mile of territory reflects London's boundaries during the Roman settlement in the first century. And while only 7,000 people live here, about 300,000 workers commute here everyday, as it is now the heart of London's financial district.
The City's sleek and modern financial towers have a tendency to camouflage some incredible historic architectural gems. Tucked among the skyscrapers are some of the finest pieces of work by renowned English architect Sir Christopher Wren, all open and eager for visitors. Even if architecture isn't your strong point, take heart. Entire volumes have been written about the breadth of Wren's work throughout London, but even a quick visit will allow a traveler the opportunity to become acquainted with Wren's best work.
If you have just half a day to explore The City, here's the perfect Wren-themed itinerary.
Do you have the world's shortest layover in London- but cling to big travel dreams?
Have you ever dreamed of being transported to another country for even just a few hours? How amazing would it be to wake up to breakfast in Paris or close the day with a nightcap in Rio? I love long trips, but there's also an intoxicating allure to the whirlwind visit, getting just a tantalizing taste of what a city has to offer. And lately, I've been thinking about the flavors of London. Specifically an ultra-short London layover.
I have a good friend who we'll refer to as Graeme (because that is in fact his name!) who recently did just that. He had the briefest of layovers in London while on route to another European city. A layover so short that we even pondered if it was worth his time to leave the airport at all! In general, I rarely recommend layovers where you have less than 4 hours of leisure time but such sensible practicalities are lost on a wild soul like Graeme, who was determined to see London for the very first time.
And now Graeme isn't the only traveler I know who's embracing a lickety-split layover in London - my friend Valerie is considering it too! So if Graeme and Val sounds just like you and you have a devil-may-care approach to layovers - or if you simply have extremely limited free time to see the city on a business trip - here's what you can do in London when you have just three hours, plus a few options to extend your day if you have five to six hours.
What's on my list of the best things to do in East Sussex? Sleep next to an castle, feast on custard creams, and discover thousand year old battle fields.
Welcome to Herstmonceux Castle! This is one of the most special places in the world to me. The 15th century manor home has a colorful history and its current role as an international study center for Queen's University is what makes it feel like my second home. And a visit here tops my list of things to do in East Sussex. It really is an incredible place - and it will always have a special place in my traveling heart.
I knew I wanted to do a semester abroad at "The Castle" before I even started my first day of university at Queen's and the semester I spent there in my third year was one of the best experiences of my life. It was an incredible learning experience and it sparked my lifelong love for travel. I enjoyed it so much, I spent two summers working on the property as a bartender, housekeeper, and receptionist and I used all my free time to explore the area. It didn't take long for me to consider it to be the most beautiful castle in East Sussex.
While I would heartily endorse a semester of study to anyone, I appreciate that's not always practical! But it is the perfect place for an extended stop on an East Sussex road trip. Here are my top recommendations for visiting The Castle and planning an East Sussex adventure.
Come step inside a few centuries of history...
I've been visiting houses of worship around the world for as long as I can remember. I may have all the spiritual sensibilities of a rock, but that hasn't stopped me from enjoying the beauty, architecture, art, history, and geneaology found within the walls of the grandest mosque or the tiniest church. And as a budget minded traveler, spiritual sites top my list of value all-stars. They are tremendously affordable (usually free!), your donations go to a good cause, there are often special events like free music recitals - and you may even get a fantastic meal too!
There are thousands of houses of worship in London and I've only visited a fraction - but I'm happy to share a few of my favourites here. If I do say so myself, I think this is a perfect list for a first time visitor to London as it gives you a little bit of everything. Famous, obscure, old (and really old), music, community, and food. I'm hoping with each subsequent visit to London my list will continue to grow!
Why isn't St. Paul's Cathederal on this list? It is indeed one of my favourites but I haven't had the chance to visit since 2001 and therefore I can't really offer any personal insights into things like their cafe, their music program, or their tours. Hopefully, I'll be back for a return visit soon!
Planning the trip of a lifetime to Ireland? Here are our 5 favourite Irish travel experiences.
Ireland is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world - and it's one of our personal favourites as well! I've traveled to Ireland four times now, in visits ranging from 24 hours to an entire summer, and each time I always discover something new that makes me fall in love with the country all over again.
But I also get frustrated with some traditional images of Ireland. There is so much more to the country than wild parties in Dublin's Temple Bar or jam-packed castle visits! Here are five Irish travel experiences we always look forward to that reflect the real heart and soul of the country.
We've never had a hotel quite like this one.
As we stood basking in the neon glow of the electric orange paint, key card in hand, I shot Ryan a sharp look. “Promise me”, I said, “Promise me that whatever’s behind this door you’ll give me your usual, cheerful ‘Oh, now this isn’t so bad!’”.
With a whoosh, we slid the key card through the slot and stepped into our hotel room. Ryan’s face fell. “Oh”, he said flatly, “This isn’t so bad?” And with that dubious and doubtful start we began the first of four days inside an EasyHotel.
2 People, 2 Days, $200 - Is Extreme Budget Travel in London Possible?
One of my favourite travel adventures is a $200 Challenge. In both the northern mountains of Vermont and in Canada’s legendary Algonquin Park we've challenged ourselves to see if two people could comfortably travel for two days and spend just $200. It's ultra frugal travel at its finest. In both cases, we've had outstanding trips, learned a lot of financial lessons, and gained fresh motivation to attempt this challenge in new locations.
After two camping related challenges it was time to try something new. It was time for a place with a real bed and hot running water! Could that place be London? Everyone want cheap travel in London? But is it really possible? Budget travel, London style, was going to test all of my travel skills.
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